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Thursday, February 3, 2011


I know you are thinking that just because I was a teacher, I'm writing this. Well, you are partly right. But when I was little, my "secretary" mother always corrected my English. When I was in grade school, junior high and high school, the teachers could strike fear in you like you wouldn't believe. And they got by with it.
All through those three schools, my favorite teacher was Mrs. Cassell who taught 7th grade English at St. Albans Junior High School. Tough? You bet: I was petrified of her but I learned. And to make matters worse [or better] she lived right across the street from me on South Walnut Street.
Forward to college and when I switched from Marshall to WV State University, I had the roughest teacher I have ever had or would ever have: Dr. Lorena Kemp.
Can you picture seven college students with her on a Saturday for three hours?
The first thing she said when we entered her classroom for the first time was: "Bad English hurts your ears!" We learned Old English, wrote about ten term papers and helped her research WV city names. And never used bad English around her--ever. I drew upon her class all throughout my teaching career and was so thankful for her pushing us.

When I was 26 and teaching, I remember going to the Capitol Complex for a meeting.
I was standing at the elevator when a man all duded up came and stood beside me. I couldn't keep my eyes off of him: It was impossible for he was wearing a black striped suit, white shirt, black tie, black and white shoes, a black hat with a white rim and was holding a black and white striped umbrella. And he thought he was definitely a DANDY!
Seemed like forever before the elevator doors opened and there were tons of people in there.
This "DANDY" proceded to holler at a man in the back and said, "Hi! I haven't saw you in a long time!"
I thought I was going to lose it right there and then. What bad English? And he was clueless.

Every time I hear someone using bad English, it grates on my last nerve.
And I think back to that DANDY! I just wish that Mr. Bill had gotten a hold of him on an episode of Saturday Night Live.

Moral? If you're looking cool and blurt out something in bad English, you will not only look but sound like a fool. But bad English is becoming acceptable by many and then what will happen?
Mrs. Cassell and Dr. Kemp are probably rolling over in their graves right now. Horrid thought but true. And where is Mr. Bill when you need him?

Sherry Hill

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